Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with police officers today as thousands descended upon the nation’s capital to take part in the anti-racism rally.
Violent scenes showed police officers bleeding on the street, fireworks being launched into the air and protesters dragged across the road as a peaceful demonstration turned violent again in Whitehall, London, on Sunday,
The shocking images come as demonstrations continue to increase around the world after George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died after police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25 for nine minutes.
Despite the majority of the protests remaining peaceful throughout the day, violence erupted on Whitehall yet again, with images showing officers and protesters suffering injuries during the melee.
Outside Downing Street some demonstrators were seen turning violent as police officers tried to control the mass chaos and form a barricade.
Elsewhere, one protester was seen climbing onto The Cenotaph, a war memorial dedicated to the unprecedented losses suffered during the First World War, and setting fire to the Union Jack flag.
Earlier on Sunday, images showed Black Lives Matter protesters tearing down a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol today and dumped it in the harbour.
Footage showed demonstrators, packed closely together – despite social distancing guidelines, heaving the metal monument down with ropes before cheering and dancing around it, with many placing their knees on the fallen statue as it lay on the ground.
Mail Online reported that just hours later the M6 in the Midlands was closed as Black Lives Matter protesters walked down the carriageway.
A video posted on social media showed crowds of people covering the motorway at the Exhall interchange near Coventry as traffic remained stationary on the other side.
One eyewitness said there were around 100 people taking part and that they were chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ over and over again.
Many on the motorway going the other way got out of their cars to watch the protests which began at around 5pm. The southbound carriageway was close for around two hours.
The nation-wide scenes come just a day after Met Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, revealed that 14 police officers had been hurt during anti-racism protests in London yesterday evening which saw a police officer injured after falling off her horse
In a statement yesterday the police chief said: ‘I am deeply saddened and depressed that a minority of protesters became violent towards officers in central London yesterday evening,’ she said.
‘This led to 14 officers being injured, in addition to 13 hurt in earlier protests this week.
‘We have made a number of arrests and justice will follow. I know many who were seeking to make their voices heard will be as appalled as I am by those scenes.
‘I would urge protesters to please find another way to make your views heard which does not involve coming out on the streets of London, risking yourself, your families and officers as we continue to face [the deadly coronavirus].’
Following the destruction of the statue in Bristol today former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid condemned protesters’ decision to force it down, declaring on Twitter: ‘This is not OK’. Home Secretary Priti Patel branded the act as ‘utterly disgraceful’.
Speaking after the demonstration, superintendent Andy Bennett vowed there would be an investigation into the ‘act of criminal damage,’ near Bristol Harbourside, where slave ships once docked centuries ago.
Meanwhile Home Secretary Priti Patel told Sky News: ‘I think that is utterly disgraceful. That speaks to the acts of public disorder that actually have become a distraction from the cause that people are actually protesting.
‘Sheer vandalism and disorder is completely unacceptable and its right the police follow up on that and make sure justice is undertaken.’
The scenes come as demonstrations continue to increase around the world after George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died after police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck in Minneapolis on May 25 for nine minutes.
Following the death of George Floyd, three other officers who were also present at the scene, Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.